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C O U R S E 
The Ancient Greeks
Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Wesleyan University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Herodotus and The Histories
Notes taken on April 28, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Herodotus (484-425 BC)
invented the genre of history
born in Halicarnassus (today: Bodrum, Turkey)
we don't know much about his personal life
he comes up in his texts now and then but doesn't tell much about himself
tells legends but none very reliable
lived among the survivors and witnesses of the war against Persia
traveled quite widely
has a first-hand acquaintance with Greece, Ionia, and even Egypt
intellectual influences that affected him
Ionian philosophy
identified with a city on the central coast of Ionia: Miletus
not to be confused with the Ionian Sea
one of the seven sages
natural philosopher
speculation of the basic substance of the cosmos: air
Anaximander (610–546 BC)
student of Thales
his sudent was Pythagoras
basic element was the "immeasurable" the Apeiron [AP-er-on]
student of Anaximander
basic element was water
an attempt to find out what is the basic substance
what is missing is the gods
overtly skeptical
Xenophanes of Colophon
philosopher, theologian, poet, and social and religious critic
lived a life of travel, left Ionia
Gods of Thracians are red haired and blue eyed while the gods of the Ethiopians are snub-nosed and black
if cows could depict their gods, they would have horns, hooves, and a tail
Hecataeus (550–476 BC)
the first known Greek historian
one of the first classical writers to mention the Celtic people
wrote: A Trip Around the World
actually a trip around the Mediterranean
examined customs of different peoples he encountered
Herodotus mentioned him but only to criticize him
Herodotus was influenced by his prose writing
grand sweep of his narratives in the Iliad and the Odyssey
provides a model for story telling but Herodotus does something different with it
but none of these philosophers had much of a practical impact on the day to day practices of religion or believes in myth
The Histories
his great work
first sentences
Herodotus of Halicarnassus here displays his inquiry (histories), which mean "looking into things"
not having a muse inspire you
conducting your own examination
questioning sources
so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time
histories not only of the Greeks, but foreigners as well
very open minded to other cultures
traveled widely
first-hand interviews
looking at things
underlying tensions of East and West
says, "I know who first injured the Greeks"
King Croesus (595–547 BC)
paradigm of what happens when people get power
Herodotus jumps back five generations to tell another story
King Candaules
had a beautiful wife
had a trusted courtier Gyges [GIGH-geez]
says that Gyges has to see his wife naked
Gyges says it is against all customs
tells Gyges to hide and watch her undress
Gyges succumbs to this persuasion
while Gyges is watching her, she sees him
she goes to bed, he slips out
next days she summons him
you can kill Candaules, marry me, and become king
or you can die
Gyges chooses the former
Herodotus says vengeance would come in the fifth generation after Gyges
if there is an injury, there will be some kind of penalty, even if it takes five generations to work out
the fifth generation was King Croesus
King Croesus [KREE-sus]
spectacularly wealthy
asks Solon who the happiest man in the world is
three have been happier than Croesus
Tellus the Athenian
had sons
his sons had sons who he lived to see
died fighting for his country
was given the honor of being buried on the battlefield with a monument
Kleobis [KLEE-ah-bis] and Biton [BIGH-tawn]
painting by Nicolas-Pierre Loir (1624-1679)
brothers who died peacefully in their sleep when their mother prayed for their perfect happiness after they had demonstrated filial piety by drawing her to a festival in an oxcart themselves
a hero cult was established in their honor
a pair of statues was set up for them at Delphi
human life changes from second to second
"count no man happy until he's dead"
this interview with Solon is in the nature of the question "Which man is happy?"
Solon is a Greek, a lawgiver, emphasizes quality
Croesus is Asian, a monarch, attention is fixed on quantity
Croesus' son dies
Croesus decides to attack Persia
Croesus was fond of the God at Delphi
sent lavish gifts to this god of the Greeks
asks what will happen if I attack Persia
Oracle: you will destroy a great empire
neglects to ask whose empire
attacks, driven back, captured in palace by Persian king Cyrus [SIGH-rus] (600-530 BC)
put on a funeral pyre
Cyrus repents to this Barbarism but flames are already too great
Croesus prays to Apollo, god at Delphi
Apollo sends a rain shower down which quenches the flames
Croesus is rescued
Croesus and Cyrus establish a kind of rapport
Croesus becomes, as Solon had been, a wise adviser
Croesus asks Cyrus was are his men doing
sacking your city
no, they're sacking your city
Cyrus admires his wisdom
Herodotus sees Croesus as historical pattern that repeats itself: a ruler who
has enough
wants more
commits a rash act
suffers consequences
Herodotus is intensely interested in the customs of other people